Note from Jeremy: this is a guest post from Mark Vellend.
Over the holiday break, my family logged about 2000 km in our gasoline-powered car, loaded with people, luggage, gifts, and ski equipment. We do something like that four times per year, visiting family east and west. “Love miles” people call them, and we feel guilty about the carbon emissions, but it’s far less starting from where we live now in Sherbrooke, Québec, than it would be with air travel from where we used to live in Vancouver, BC. And our second car is 100% electric, in a province with “clean” electricity. So, in terms of our ecological footprint, it’s bad, but it could be worse.
A couple times per year, I use air travel to go to professional meetings of one sort or another. For 2-3 others I drive or take buses or trains. I’m pretty sure the flights alone put me well above my yearly fair share of contributions to atmospheric pollution, but I turn down a decent number of invitations, in part because of consumption guilt, and I travel less than many fellow ecologists. It’s bad, but it could be worse.
Over the past 20 years, my wife and I have travelled by plane to Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Bolivia, Tanzania, and Malaysia, among other places, with the primary purpose of experiencing the world’s unique ecosystems, flora, and fauna (birds especially). But for the most part, we try to keep things local, with frequent trips to natural areas nearby. It’s bad, but it could be worse.
What does any of this have to do with ecological science?